Oct 1, 2012 12:00pm EDT
>>> zingers, one liners, policy and attacks. the way this presidential debate is shaping up, wouldn't it be easy to have a hot dog eating contest and call it a day? anyone? it's monday, october 1st and this is "now." >>> joining me today, emmy darling msnbc political analyst and national affairs editor for "new york" magazine john heilemann, "the huffington post" washington bureau chief ryan grim, author of "the daily show" liz winsted and "rolling stone" executive editor eric baits. welcome to bizarre world. ramping you for the first debate each candidate is showering praise on the opposition in the hopes of lowering the bar for themselves. paul ryan gushed over president obama's skills on the debate stage. >> president obama is a very -- he's a very gifted speaker. the man's been on the national stage for many years. he's an experienced debater. >> shockingly, senior white house adviser david plouffe had the same feelings about governor mitt romney. >> we'd expect it all along that governor romney will have a good night. he's prepared more than any candidate in history and shown himself to be a good debater through the years. >> even the candidates were tamping down expectations yesterday. >> i don't think anyone would suggest the debates aren't important. i can't tell you how important it will be. i don't know what will happen at the debates. >> governor romney is a good debater. i'm just okay. >> the soft performance has gotten so soft it's almost evaporated. but while almost everyone seems to be muting enthusiasm in trying to undersell new jersey governor chris christie is taking a different tack. overselling with gusto. >> come thursday morning, the entire narrative of this race is going to change. we have a candidate that is going to do extraordinarily well on wednesday night. when we get to thursday morning george, you're going to be shaking your head saying it's a brand new race with 33 days to go. >> governor christie right in the sense that romney needs to change the dynamic of the race. a new "washington post"/abc news survey find 5s 5% of voters think the president will win the debates compared to 31% who believe rom wil win. romney adviser tell "the new york times" they're aiming to make the president come off as condescending or smug. that characterized obama's notable gaffe during the 2008 primary when hillary clinton was asked what she would say to voters who seemed to like barack obama more. >> he's very likable. i agree with that. i don't think i'm that bad. >> you're likable enough, hillary. >> thank you. >> governor romney's 23 debate performances during the republican primary his weakness showed when he allowed competitors to get und her is skin prompting irritated off script moments that gave a new meaning to the #awkward. >> anderson -- >> you say you knew. >> would you please wait? >> are you just going to deep talking? >> yes, sir. >> let me finish what i have to say i'm running for office i can't have ill heels. >> when will you release yours? will you follow your father's examples? >> maybe. i don't know how many years i'll release. i'll take a look at what our documents are -- >> you asked me an entirely different question. >> wow. john heilemann, i can't get enough of the semi vintage romney debate clips but want to know as a resident expert on all things campaign related having written a book called "game change" how does this, the pressure that is on mitt romney to turn this thing around on a single night in an hour and a half, seems disproportionate to anything we've seen in modern politics. do you agree with that? how off base am i? >> i want to start by saying given the quality that the panel here today, i want to try to set expectations low for myself. i looked at this group and thought if i can get through this today without actually passing out, dying on the floor, victory for me. >> without vomits blood. >> you did it last week and it was okay. going ahead. >> chris christie is speaking truth the other day. i don't like the expectations game very much. mitt romney is behind. what chris christie said, not the part about how it it's going to be a whole new race the next day, but saying this matters for mitt romney. and, you know, we've been talking about it for two weeks now. the romney campaign knows they are on the wrong side of the battleground polling, they're -- we've seen a little tightening in some of the national polling in the couple days. he has to move the needle in some way. it's not unprecedented in the history of presidential politics but there's a -- this race looks a lot like -- i have people annal guising it to the bob dole/bill clinton race in 1996 and by the time you got to the first dough bait in that -- debate in that race, they said they were abandoning dole, a slightly accelerated schedule of desperation and people bailing out, but it was a similar path. dole came in and the only possible way he was going to win if clinton had a heart attack on stage or intern wandered and testified that clinton had -- in the middle of the budgets. >> the word diddled has come up. >> none happened and the race was over. romney, a similar kind of situation. romney needs to change the game and so the pressure -- i think it's a very high stakes moment for him and a high pressure moment for him too. >> go ahead, liz. >> i was going to say, after watching chris christie's 17th thing yesterday on tv and i open up my medicine cabinet and he was screaming at me saying it's happening, i went on to twitter trying to get some one of you smart people to respond to me where i said that's all well and good but historically, has mitt romney ever been the comeback kid or done something so amazing that has turned something around for him? i got crickets. probably because people were out on a lovely sunday. has he? >> it's not just that he needs to knock it out of the park and proven himself incapable of swinging the bat in the right direction, e.j. dion outlines the threefold task at hand. those are -- well so two things, actually. there might have been a third in there. very complicated task and to be likable. >> right. and he's in a jam because polls say he is not likable and he's in a second jam because he's not sarah palin. you know, people know that this has been a successful businessman and occasionally successful politician throughout his career, so this is somebody that they expect a decent performance from. they expect that this guy could go in front of a bunch of investors or shareholders and could deliver a pitch. if he doesn't meet that expectation, then, you know, then that's trouble for him. however to answer liz's question in 2002 when he ran for governor he was struggling and he was able to bait his opponent to kind of aggressively attack him in a way in the debates that didn't play well for her. they had tested that ahead of time. you know, there's some sexism behind the whole -- behind that card. it worked for them. after those debates he kind of cruised into the governor's mansion. >> i guess, eeric, maybe not a guess, everyone is concerned about appearing smug or overly confident, maybe this debate will be kind of the most sparkless debate we've seen yet, because there's so much sort of pro foe lattic discussion of what you can't do. >> if your strategy is to goad or bait barack obama into looking uncool, you're -- you might want to come up with a different strategy. he's just not going to go there. the odds are very, very slim. so the other strategy is for romney -- he could use some unscripted moments. he could use a moment that makes him look real and human to people. the problem is, from what we're hearing, he's practicing a bunch of one liners and honing them for the moment so that he can pounce. we've seen time and time again on the campaign trail how he delivers those lines and they sound like prerehearsed lines and make him seem very fake and artificial. he's not a reagan who can have a well rehearsed line and toss it off like he just thought of it. >> but -- >> stiff and weird, coming from somebody who has to pay my rent based -- delivering a good line, there's nothing worse and romney has it in spades, where after you say something that is supposed to resonate and you laugh at your own joke, it's the worst -- and you watch those clips we showed and the most cringing thing ever -- >> the open to the show was an example of me doing that. having a zinger in the kitty, throwing it out there, total does. john, the thing that -- there hasn't been a lot of analysis about the format of the debate which i would be interested to know your take on who this benefits. each question 15 minutes, two minutes for each candidate and 11 minutes of open discussion. which would -- if your strategy is to have a bunch of zingers in your arsenal i don't know that benefits mitt romney, although the president does have a tendency to get long winded some times. >> i think that -- i can answer that question in a way and go back to liz's question, in 2008 mitt romney was in this campaign 2012, coming out of south carolina, needed to win the florida race, came out against newt gingrich who had two great debate performances in south carolina that allowed gingrich to win and in the two debates in florida was aggressive, strong, it tough, commanding on stage, and basically backing gingrich into a corner. gingrich is a different opponent than barack obama is, but as you just said alex in this context, romney is going to be -- i think the zinger thing is overdone. i think he's going to be aggressive. i think he's going to be prosecutorial and i think the question for the president is whether both these guys, they're their own worst enemies. they both can -- romney can get wrangled and discombob beau lated and obama can be too pro lix, pro fe sore yal, i could go on. >> how very pro lix of you. >> and he could be he could seem smug and can seem dismissive and so in that open forum there, you're going to see interesting dynamics and it's why there's a lot of why as you put it pro fa lattic efforts that go with diddle earlier. >> and pro lix. >> plenty of sparks in this debate. >> but i also think too, let's not forget that the people that he has to win, for example, women, aren't really wanting zingers. they hate his policies. and that's problematic. when you're going into a debate with a bunch of sort of -- let's say nonwomen friendly not enjoying the prophylactics that is problematic. >> we have to go to break. the fact that time, that 15 minutes, allows for a fairly robust back and forth between the candidates and perhaps the discussion of some actual policy specifics which could be debate crip toe nick. coming up babies have been -- this is following a line. babies have always been a part of political campaigns but this election season gop super pacs are using children as a scare tactics. the ads that want voters to believe the kids are not all right. 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[ sigh of relief ] [ male announcer ] choose taste. choose prego. election season gop super pacs >>> how much would it cost? >> it's revenue neutral. >> just talking about the cuts. we'll get to the deductions. the cut in tax rates? >> the cut in tax rates is lower all americans tax rate business 20%. >> how much does that cost? >> it's revenue neutral. >> unless you take away the deductions. >> we're going to get to that in a second. the first half lowering the tax rates does that cost $5 trillion? >> no. look, i won't get into baseline argument with you because that's what a lot of this is about. lowering tax rates broadening the tax base works and you can -- >> but i have to -- you haven't given me the math. >> well, i don't have the time -- it would take me too long to go through all of the math. >> that was paul ryan on fox news yesterday making the case against math or for time or some combination thereof. these are the moments where i think the romney team has trouble, once you can actually drill down and say, but how does it work? show me the numbers. there is no answer. >> right. paul ryan thinks he can use this kind of policy wonk construction that he's been able to create to evade policy discussions. he told brit hume earlier i don't want to get too wonky on you when he asked him when is this budget going to balance. he did the same thing here, where he says look, you know, the math is just too complicated, just trust me on this. you can lower taxes by 20% and it's free. the problem is, nobody believes that. and you can't say well i'm really smart and know the numbers and there's cbo baselines and hope people change the channel. maybe what they should have said is i'm going to cut taxes by 20% and the economy will go through the roof. they didn't say that. they said i'm going to cut taxes by 20% and find other revenue. where will you find the other revenue? not saying. >> there is not enough time, eric, not really is a discussion -- that's not a good rejoineder. i'm no debate pro, but you know. >> that's the place where barack obama, bill clinton, you ask them a question like that, they'll go deep into the math on you. they will rattle off numbers and until you start to pass out. >> you want to stab yourself in the neck. >> they will numb you with numbers and, you know, most of them true, most of them right, all of them framed to their benefit, but they've got the command of the specifics to back up what they're saying. >> i think paul ryan has the command. he just knows that it will probably increase taxes for people earning between $100,000 and $200,000 a year. >> the answer is like with releasie ining romney's tax ret the answer is one they don't want to give. they bet the farm on not giving the answer. the plan was not to have a plan, was to run against barack obama's plan, and just keep pointing the finger at him and not have any specifics to offer of your own so you could never be attacked. >> like a bad jewel heist movie when everybody gathers in the corner in the back of the van and the plan is to have no plan. and then someone is like that's a really bad plan. >> that's a bad plan. >> speaking of bad plans or questionable plans, liz, i want to play new romney advertising from the campaign and gop super pacs that focuses on the kids and more specifically the babies. let's take a look. we are calling those babies up, but babies are slow -- very slow moving. >> they're asking the babies about math. that is never a good plan. >> i'll summarize until the folks in the control room can get it together. the -- basically making the case, as -- babies have arrived. >> here come the babies. >> take a look. >> dear daughter, welcome to america. your share of obama's debt is over $50,000. and it grows every day. obama's policies are making it harder on women. >> now, does this thing work with mothers? do you think women watch this and say all of that stuff that mitt romney has been saying now i finally get it? >> it really works with babies. babies hate obama. so i mean -- i don't know if you know this. when they polled babies it's like insane how much -- >> if they could just vote. >> obama campaign should counter it -- i don't know if you've seen that photograph going around of the baby that is screaming as mitt romney is holding it trying to get back to the mother, google baby romney it's amazing. i don't know that it works with women because, again, when women look at romney's policies, the thing that drives them the most crazy about it is, shouldn't it be my choice to have access to birth control so i can economically plan for a family and be a responsible mom. this is really -- counter intuitive to getting women, i think. >> it's sort of strategically manages to avoid the question of legitimate rape, forced rape, paul ryan's positions on those matters and the choice on the economic situation of women in america. women have not recovered as quickly in terms of job gains due to large part that manufacturing and construction have come back first, not typically women heavy jobs. i guess the question is we've talked about why now, the romney campaign has sort of trotting out whether it's old videotape or stories or anecdotes meant to humanize mitt romney and maybe should have been doing that a couple months ago. a distinct bid for the female vote coming weeks before the election. >> i don't think, though, that's an ad that's designed to humanize mitt romney. >> i think it's part of the electorate that he has forfeited the last couple months. >> he has problems with, we've discussed now for months with various groups. it's the case he had been on two issues, on handling the deficit, on the economy more broadly and some extent on what making washington work and overcoming partisan paralysis, those are issues he was ahead of obama until recently, and was ahead of obama with female voters until recently. the reason you're seeing that ad right now, the biggest and most troubling change in the polling in the last two weeks has been the shift in the right track/wrong track numbers and concurrently the shift of obama being given the edge over romney on those issues where the only place romney had a lead. they are, you know -- obviously don't want to talk about the issues that are toxic with female voters but must win back some of the suburban female votes on economics, deficit, stuff like that. they see that as an imperative and that's why that ad is out there. >> i don't think you say to your baby to, welcome to america. the first of the ad is so bizarre. hi, honey, welcome to our family. >> welcome to a baby -- welcome to america, baby, you're teething and have $50,000 in debt. after the break while the white house tweaks its analysis of the u.s. consulate in libya the romney ticket plans a pivot to hammer on foreign policy, something paul ryan is already focusing on. >> we're seeing the ugly fruits of the obama foreign policy unravel around the world on our tv screens. syria you got 20,000 dead people. iran is closer toward a nuclear weapon. the middle east peace process is in shambles and we have our flags being burned all around the world. russia is thwarting us at every stage in the process. this is a weak foreign policy with it terrible results which makes us less safe. >> we will look at team romney's new go policy and gather the latest intel when former assistant secretary of state p.j. crowley joins us live, next. 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we know it's a fluid situation. there's been a lot of critique on both sides of the aisle i would say about how precise the white house has been or hasn't been given the information that they have. >> well, there is a fog of war. so as david plouffe said, you learn things as you go along. and clearly this will be a topic of conversation. it could be a topic this week. it will be a topic later in the month during the foreign policy debate. and it guarantees that libya and perhaps some of the policies behind it will be -- will be a topic of conversation for the two. you know that said, i'm not sure it will have a decisive effect on the debate or on the election. what we do know is that the security inside these temporary facilities outposts in benghazi was in retrospect insufficient. there are reasons for that, but i don't think -- you know, it will be a lot of political costs to just the fact that -- there are things that we just don't know yet. we have an asked who the group was. we don't know whether they did this on their own or perhaps had instructions from a larger group like al qaeda. >> p.j., i keep thinking back to the first round of interviews that susan rice did on the sunday shows where she initially proposed the youtube video was at the root of chris stevens' assassination. i want to play that sound again so we're reminds of what she said in those moments. let's hear what she had to say. >> let me tell you the best information we have at present. first of all there's an fbi investigation which is ongoing and we look to that investigation to give us the definitive word as to what transpired. putting together the best information we have available to us today, our current assessment is that what happened in benghazi was, in fact, initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in cairo. >> p.j., did she say too much there? >> i mean, those were evidently some talking points that had come out of the intelligence community. i think today the tilt is more towards this was planned attack. there had been some milling around near the embassy -- near the consulate beforehand. we obviously know more today than we did and have a greater perspective today now that we have people back, interviewing them and multiple investigations going on as susan rice said. but, you know, we still don't have the definitive view on what exactly happened and what we should do about it. >> i want to open this up to our panel here. in terms of how this plays out on the campaign trail, the general thinking is foreign policy isn't going to be an issue at the ballot box but it's an opening for romney and he definitely needs to take advantage of whatever openings he has. your assessment of how he might use this given the fact that the romney campaign never wants to talk foreign policy specifics? >> sure. he might be able to capitalize on this if he hadn't quis disqualified himself twice. you think of him completely bofrpg the day after this attack but also going to the united kingdom, insulting everybody there and apologizing for ins t insulting them. you think you apologized for yourself as you traveled on the presidential stage. let's pretent you buy this theory that administration knew this was a terrorist attack and presented the american people and our allies with false information. it's not obvious to me that that's politically in their benefit. why is it obvious that the american people would turn on the president because there was a terrorist attack in libya against our ambassador on september 11th? don't the american people usually rally behind the president? why would it be obvious that you would want to fudge that? >> i think it's nuance but going to the back and forth between what, you know, the u.s./u.n. ambassador said and the state department and white house there seems to be mixed messages and you want some sense of clarity or that the president has his hands around this thing and i thin probably that's the worst thing that comes out of this, although i think a lot of people would say look, it's the fog of war as p.j. said. you know, john, the other thing is as mitt romney, he's going to make some sort of big foreign policy address next week, aei that bastion of liberal thought came out and said a blog post titled -- that's the fundamental problem here, right? there is a hunger for an alternative foreign policy plan but mitt romney isn't prepared to give any specifics. >> and to the extent that no one has -- it's like his economic policy, it has uncomfortable shades of the past republican administration, so, you know, if there's a need for a lot of new aproechls to those various foreign policy points they are not a return to neocon dog ma from the bush administration. i will say the argument for why -- i don't -- i do not believe they are engaged in a conspiracy, but the argument for why you would want to be engaged in a conspiracy is that president obama's foreign policy, largely rest on the notion he's largely decapitated al qaeda over the last four years and if al qaeda is still a dangerous force in the middle east you would lose ground on the strength of the claims he's made, not just? killing osama bin laden but in decapitating al qaeda across the board. as i said i don't believe that to be the case and i think there are serious foreign policy issues around this but more to why was the consulate not more well fortified, chris stevens' concerns not heeded in? there is serious intelligence and security that have less to do with the messaging. i think most americans are focused on the economy but there is -- if romney can get through this debate and get new life, there's a place where he's going to have to address these foreign policy concerns because we're going to have a debate primarily on that at the epd of the campaign. >> p.j., john brings up the point which is the broader intelligence concerns. most of our counterterrorism staff has been evacuated from libya and that's a serious concern given the fact it's a volatile situation over there. your assessment of the situation on the ground in terms of american it interests? >> well, it's a very dangerous place. and even if we had adequate security, you can't eliminate all danger. this is where the president can be presidential. this is not 2004 where there's a clear deeshgs sissive, foreign policy difference over iraq and the fact is that the the president's foreign policy is popul popular. allows the president to say the job is not done but where we've gone over the past four years we've had significant accomplishments from bin laden to yemen and other places and we're going to stay at it. i think that's going to be a compelling message that romney is going to be hard to overcome. >> indeed. p.j. crowley, thank you, sir, as always for your time and expertise. >> thanks, alex. >> coming up, the obama administration is certainly not the first to concern itself with political optics but before the proliferation of the 24 hour news cycle and rise of rapid response white houses had different ways of handling it. for example, the kennedy presidency. the newly released audiotapes from jfk's time in the oval office ahead on "now." so, we all set? i've got two tickets to paradise! pack your bags, we'll leave tonight. uhh, it's next month, actually... eddie continues singing: to tickets to... paradiiiiiise! no four. remember? whoooa whooaa whooo! you know ronny, folks who save hundreds of dollars by switching to geico sure are happy. and how happy are they jimmy? happier than eddie money running a travel agency. get happy. get geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more. >>> we are listening in on a batch of new audiotapes from president john f. kennedy. here is a conversation he had with his military advisers at the beginning of what would become the cuban missile crisis. >>> we'll hear more from the tapes and learn what kennedy thought of george romney when the historian who compiled the collection joins us next. i'm bara ck o bama and i approve i'm bara this message. ck o romney: "it's time to stand up to the cheaters" vo: tough on china? not mitt romney. when a flood of chinese tires threatened a thousand american jobs... it was president obama who stood up to china and protected american workers. mitt romney attacked obama's decision... said standing up to china was "bad for the nation and our workers." how can mitt romney take on the cheaters... when he's taking their side? ♪ ♪ we're lucky, it's not every day you find a companion as loyal as a subaru. love. it's what makes a subaru, a subaru. >>> yeah. do you this fellow romney? have you met romney? george romney? >> only casually. >>> 50 years ago, another romney was on the mind of the top democrat in the white house, and the clip you heard president kennedy is trying to gauge the political viability of mitt romney's father george romney. the conversation with douglas mccar thur was picked up by hidden microphones kennedy ordered installed in 1962. it's not clear why kennedy wanted his meetings and phone conversations recorded but we're left with hundreds of hours of secret discussions that lifted the veil on how president kennedy handled the crucial moments of his presidency. they are the subject of the new book "listening in the secret white house records of john f. kennedy." ted compiled the selections in this and joins us now. great to have you on set. >> thank you. >> an audio book and fascinating one at that. first and foremost we were talking about this during the break why the microphones everywhere? >> other presidents had taped conversations but to a smaller degree. fdr, truman and eisenhower experimented with it but why he decided in the summer of 1962 to ramp it up is unclear to us. i think the most logical explanati explanation he was getting to write a memoir and taping the conversation would help. he had been getting faulty advice for his military advisers and might have been doing it for political reasons also. >> i was asking you whether it was legal at the time to be doing such a thing without the knowledge of the folks being recorded? >> i'm sure he knew earlier presidents had done it. i don't think he was violating precedent. it's an interesting question. i'm not a lawyer. if you're taping someone someone for your private use it's a different question than if it's going to get out there to a lot of people. >> if it was, in fact, for a memoir, eric, it's amazing kennedy had a sense of his place in history even then, without even a second term he knew this was something that folks would want archives of. >> he absolutely did. he was a published historian, more than most presidents. he had written a lot before he became president. he won a pulitzer in 1957 and things were moving extremely fast in 1962 when he installed the tapes and his intuition was right because right after he installed them you get the ole miss segregation crisis in september 1962 and cuban missile crisis in october. he was spot on. >> eric, we don't have time to play all of the amazing clips in the book or a handful of them, but i do want to talk about this one i thought stood out. great tape about the civil rights school integration stuff, call with president eisenhower talking about the cuban missile crisis. this was really interesting. kennedy on the optics of sort of being president and how the gop would seize on a photo op and try to take it out of context which doesn't seem like something you would be considering way back in the '60s. let's hear that tape. >> so apparently just as bad even back then. >> i think it was bad back then. there's this tendency to say it's worse than it's ever been. when you look at history all the way back to the founding you realize people were getting beat in the head with kaines on the senate floor and it's always been bad. that said i think kennedy was particularly astute when it came to optics and concerned with it. he was the first modern president in that regard, the one that came of age and owed his exe -- election to some extent to television. he was seeing it as a stage that had to be set and you see that reflected in those comments. >> now we don't need microphones. we just need juicy tell-all -- >> but i think actually to go back to the first thing, the interesting thing is, president obama just the other day in that "vanity fair" story with michael lewis said he wishing he still had a taping system in the oval office. a lot of presidents, there's a reason they're in this incredible room where some of the historically important conversations in the country take place. it's natural for president to recognize their place in history to -- who wouldn't want -- the same way people want people to take video and audio of their weddings. you want that record. i think presidents who have a place -- have a cognizant that way, all kind of at least at some level wish they could have it recorded for posterity. i think it stretches back probably to the beginning of those devices and will stretch forward forever. >> i wish this had been taped. >> i thinks there's a camera. >> oddly enough. >> richard nixon probably ruined the taping thing for a lot of people. >> he did. >> it was a fantastic collection -- a fantastic archive, it comes with its own audio cd which is great so that you can listen to this stuff over and over again. i can't underscore how fascinating this is moments in history. congratulations on that. >> thank you so much. >> thanks for joining us. the book is "listening in the secret white house recordings of jfk. "coming up, all in, akin lightning rod missouri congressman todd akin isn't backing away from his challenge to senator claire mcskas kill and some key republicans are getting back on the akin bandwagon. chris christie is not one of them. >> over the course of the week we're seeing more prominent republicans senator demint, tom coburn, lindsey graham coming out in support of todd akin. do you think he should have the support of the republican party? >> into no. >> in. >> >>. >> no. >> no, i don't. >> the fallout from the latest akin push next in what now. [ female announcer ] need help keeping your digestive balance? try the #1 gastroenterologist recommended probiotic. align. align naturally helps maintain digestive balance. ♪ ooh, baby, can i do for you today? ♪ try align today. and these come together, one thing you can depend on is that these will come together. delicious and wholesome. some combinations were just meant to be. tomato soup from campbell's. it's amazing what soup can do. >>> welcome back. time for what now? even though governor chris christie said the gop should not give its support to senate candidate todd akin some are changing their minds about the missouri congressman and offering him support now that his name cannot be removed from the ballot. this has been a big 180 for the gop, ryan. santorum is saying that the entire gop needs to get behind akin. roy blount, who initially called for akin to step aside is saying voters will overlook akin's comments and vote for him. the "the huffington post" publication, has an interesting piece this morning where akin is responding to a question about voting against the lilly ledbetter act and saying it's all part of free enterprise and it's about freedom not paying women as much as men. >> that was the argument that was made against the civil rights act too, it's your business, you can do whatever you want with it. but i don't think it's that surprising that some republicans are coming back behind akin here. parties are generally speaking amoral. their job is to get themselves a majority in the senate or the house. whatever they need to do they're going to do to get there. now, it looked for a while like they were going to be able to push him off the ballot. so they all piled on. and they all had this, you know, spas. of more reality. -- spas m of more reality. he didn't buckle. polls were close enough it might be worth putting money in. is this money better spent in missouri, north dakota, montana, virginia. that's all it is. allocation of resources and they have no shortage of this that this time around. >> i don't think it's -- that's very astute observation and crass. i agree, look, they saw akin, they did not -- >> democrats would do the same thing. they'll throw a pro life guy into a district -- >> legitimate rape stuff you don't think for a moment the gop thought maybe we need to dial it down here. >> that's -- just isolating him, because it's not just the legitimate rape, it's the endless on and on and claire mccaskill wasn't ladylike in the debate and not ladylike to pay women what they earn. isolating akin out, to me the bigger thing is, it makes your party solidifies you as not mainstream anymore, you will embrace this nut bag over anything else, somebody who is clearly -- doesn't even understand the science of a woman's body, over a democrat. that just seems kind of -- everything you're saying is right but just with todd akin he's not just like -- it wasn't a gaffe. it's just odd. >> remember it wasn't a gaffe. he sponsored a bill on this. >> yes. >> cosponsored by paul ryan. it wasn't just -- it wasn't a slip of the tongue. this was their position. the entire, you know, house had been, you know -- the tea party wing of the house had been fighting for this. >> the reason they can get away with it in this race, think back mark foley became a national issue in a congressional race in 2006 where it was bad for the party nationally. because it's a presidential year, there's so much more attention that's going to go on the presidential election it is likely the case that the party -- you won't have a national discussion over this anymore over -- even though you might in other cases. the price is probably relatively low. as ryan was saying, if they are amoral things more important to try to win the majority than worry about the longer term implications. >> maybe todd akin needs his own baby ad. i'm just saying. trying to button it up. talk about falling flat. >> naughty naughty. >> wow. >> zinger. >> jon, ryan, liz and eric, for bearing with this program today. that is all for now. i will see you back at noon eastern, 9:00 a.m. pacific joined by jonathan capehart, david corn of mother jones and "the new york times" nate silver. until then find us at facebook.com/nowwithalex. "andrea mitchell reports" is next. good afternoon. >> thanks so much. the expectations game heating up ahead of this week's first presidential debate. with two days to go until denver we'll talk to former bush speechwriter michael gerson. virginia governor bob mcdonnell. from the obama campaign jen saki. lester holt is live in afghanistan where three more americans died today after a suicide bomb. and curry reports from the syrian border. is iraq beginning to come apart at seams? more on that to come. "andrea mitchell reports" next on msnbc. xwch ♪ it has everything to put you in the malibu state of mind no matter what state you live in. ♪ stay top of mind with customers? from deals that bring them in with an offer... to social media promotions that turn fans into customers... to events that engage and create buzz... to e-mails that keep loyal customers coming back, our easy-to-use tools will keep you in front of your customers. see what's right for you at constantcontact.com/try.